ShareThis Page

Man held in fatal Homestead shooting

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 1:26 a.m.

Charges have been held against a Pittsburgh man accused of a deadly shooting in Homestead on Oct. 18.

Wilbert Keith Johnson, 37, of Pittsburgh appeared before Magisterial District Judge Robert Dzvonick on Friday. Johnson is charged with homicide, possession of a prohibited firearm and two counts of terroristic threats in connection with the death of Qaeed Braxton, 36, of Duquesne.

Braxton died when he was shot in the back near the intersection of Amity Street and Eighth Avenue. Prosecutors allege that Johnson fired the deadly shot while he, Braxton and another man who was a friend of Braxton's were having an argument over a woman.

Johnson's attorney Chris Urbano argued unsuccessfully at the hearing that the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to link his client to the crime.

“Just having a body and a statement is not enough,” said Urbano, referring to testimony from Allegheny County police detective Patrick Kinavey, who said Johnson admitted during an interview with police that he fired a shot from a 9 mm pistol after Braxton and another man jumped him.

Urbano objected several times to assistant district attorney Bill Petulla presenting testimony on the incident solely from the detective. Urbano said police failed to record their interview with Johnson or have him sign a statement admitting to the shooting.

Petulla said his office will be able to present additional witnesses when the case moves to trial. Those witnesses are expected to include a woman who received a phone call immediately after the shooting from Johnson and others who saw him at the crime scene.

A video taken inside the Ragtime Bar shows Johnson and others inside the establishment just before the shooting. Prosecutors say Johnson argued with Braxton and others inside the bar. The men left the bar and Johnson reportedly went to his vehicle to retrieve a handgun.

Police said Johnson told them after his arrest that he was jumped by two men when he got his gun and fired a shot before getting back in his car and going to a bar in Mt. Oliver. Johnson was arrested several hours after the shooting.

Dzvonick acknowledged evidentiary concerns raised by Urbano but said, for the purpose of a primary hearing, the evidence presented was sufficient to hold Johnson.

The judge, referring to Johnson's remarks during the police interview, said, “He says it's self-defense and we've got a dead body. It's going to a jury.”

The judge acknowledged, “There's a lot of shaky stuff here,” referring to the case as it was presented by the prosecution. He said he possibly would have thrown the matter out had the defendant denied firing the pistol. But because he didn't, the judge said, “I'm going to hold him.”

Johnson, held in Allegheny County Jail without bail, did not testify at the hearing. His formal arraignment is set for Dec. 4.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.